As a trained presenter of Al Gore and Dr. David Suzuki’s The Climate Project Canada, it’s an understatement to say that I’m a busy person during Earth Week.
One year ago, we created a new presentation specifically built for high school students as part of a “Green Your School” initiative. Our goal back then was to speak to 40,000 students before the end of the school year. That goal was not only met but was blown out of the water as we more than doubled what we had hoped to achieve!
Personally speaking, between March and June of last year I spoke to over 10,000 students across Canada. I spoke to students across the Greater Toronto Area and even did speaking tours throughout the Greater Vancouver Area as well as in Winnipeg, Manitoba.
The good news is that in 2011 the numbers are looking equally as strong. We have received hundreds of requests across the country and many of our 100+ trained presenters are giving their time to deliver a critical message to those who need to hear it.
In our presentation one of the key messages that we deliver to the students is that we really have no choice in life but to change our ways. For more than half a century we have developed a society that is highly abusive and reckless towards our own environment. During many of those years we could argue that we didn’t know better, but that excuse has no value any longer. The science behind the reality of climate change is actually very simple and clear…or let me put it this way…THERE IS ABSOLUTELY NO LEGITIMATE DEBATE ABOUT THE VALIDITY OF CLIMATE CHANGE AND THAT IT IS IN FACT, MAN MADE!
Any contrarian evidence presented by naysayers is pure spin doctoring designed to create doubt in the minds of society as a whole. When change is necessary in life – no matter what the circumstances are – doubt is the enemy. Humanity hates to change. Whether we need to change our eating habits, or our work habits or our relationship skills, or our attitude towards the environment change requires effort and that’s something we typically don’t like to do. Those who don’t want to see us change – those being the industries and individuals who have profited enormously through our six decades of reckless indulgence – understand that to halt change, they only need to cast doubt upon the need to change. That’s why you hear of some obscure scientist advocating some radical new theory that’s hard to comprehend but easily injects doubt into our collective will. This is what the tobacco industry did with great effectiveness for many years and this is exactly what the opponents of climate change are using today.
So how do we move past this? How do we collectively empower society to not listen to the half-truths and deceit being spread to halt change in its tracks? We do so by utilizing three things: awareness, empowerment and motivation.
If society becomes aware of the tricks that the anti climate change lobby is trying to play, then we can be more vigilant and objective in our response. While Web 2.0 has created a new information superhighway that is fast becoming the dominant form of mass communication, we must realize that there is no vetting of accuracy when information is shared online. While I’m not preaching to be cynical, we must be aware enough to question things that on the surface don’t make sense. Mark Twain once famously said “What gets us into trouble is not what we don’t know, but rather what we know for sure that just isn’t so.” Sadly this requires us to take off the automatic pilot that we often live our lives with, but by being more aware, it can be beneficial in ways that go far beyond the debate over climate change.
Empowerment is also a key element in winning the fight for our future and our environment. If you allow yourself to ingest every warning being given, you can easily become overwhelmed and take no action as a result. The truth is that every little step, no matter how small is beneficial. We can’t solve this problem in a week or a month or even over the span of a few years. However, if we don’t build the necessary momentum by taking small steps, one by one then we will never get to the desired results we need. Change takes time but we all need to believe that the little changes we make, over time will result in big success.
Motivation is also absolutely critical for success. What needs to be clear though is the right motivation for someone to make the changes necessary in order to fight climate change is likely not the same motivation for others. For some, it may be for altruistic reasons. For others it may be economical or for financial gain (remember…there is a growing “Green” economy out there). Some may even consider their motivation to be one of legacy. For me though…it’s about my family.
As a Dad I can’t think of a more selfish, irresponsible and reckless thing to do than to abuse the world that I live in for my own benefit while leaving the destructive implications of that abuse for my 4 children to deal with later. There is a famous Native American proverb that says “We did not inherit this planet from our ancestors, rather we are only borrowing it from our children” and those words echo in my head every single day. If anyone reading this has been having difficulty changing their environmental attitude and approach for their own gain, then I challenge you to make the changes for the benefit of your children. There is a Chinese Proverb that says “One generation plants the trees, the next get the shade” and that sums up the legacy of either your action or inaction will leave for future generations.
As we approach the 41st edition of Earth Day this year, my wish is that we reflect on all that we see, hear, read and experience with respect to the debate on climate change. When we do so I hope that we can become more aware to the psychological warfare being waged against us, that we will continue to feel empowered enough to believe that the fight to protect humanity CAN and WILL be won, and that each of us will search within ourselves to find the right motivation to carry on in spite of all the tactics being used to dissuade you from moving forward.
This fight can be won. I’m ready to fight with all that I can to win for the consequences of failure are far, far too severe. I hope all of you reading this will be willing to join me and if so, I’d love it if you’d leave a comment saying just that.